Joshua A. Connor

"Fragments of the Soul: Eros and Askesis in Rosenzweig, Weil and Neuropsychiatric Culture"
2013

My dissertation is a study of the concept of the soul and its role in shaping how we imagine the erotic or desirous character of human existence -- the organization of levels or dimensions of eros, the relation of eros to transcendence and the sorts of practices capable of elevating or purifying eros. I am, in particular, drawing on the work of two 20th century religious thinkers, Franz Rosenzweig and Simone Weil, in order to ask what relevance the concept of the soul might still have for a scientific culture, and I intend to place this work in conversation with a study of neuropsychiatric concepts of the mood disorder and the antidepressant as a central idioms in which western cultures have come to think about and act upon malformations of psychic eros.
 
I hope to use the upcoming year at the Martin Marty Center to begin drawing these two strands into conversation and I could hardly ask for a better environment in which to do so. My project winds through a few different disciplines, such as theology and medical anthropology, and the opportunity to discuss my work with colleagues across the spectrum of religious studies and beyond will be invaluable. I hope, too, that the MMC's commitment to public scholarship in religion will encourage me to translate my work to wider audiences in ways that are clear and compelling.

Religious Ethics